Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

Leave no box unchecked: luxury, sportswear, monochrome, uniform, streetwear. Over the last two decades, Andre Tan has built a strong following to guarantee stay-afloat sales amid the political, economic, and – now – war crisis that Ukraine is facing today. But that’s not what makes its creative director Andre Tan one of the most intriguing Ukrainian designers today.

Tan’s recent collaboration with the Ukrainian Water Polo Federation proves he is a brilliant strategist hardwired to geopolitical and cultural zeitgeist. While many Ukrainian designers continue to mine folklore for elusive style gold, he opted to source inspiration in one of the most daring sports: water polo.

Best known for releasing his modern collections in capsules reflecting elements of sportswear, city life, and urban architecture, Tan’s most recent label – RDNT – launched a new capsule collection in partnership with the Ukrainian Water Polo Federation. RDNT stands for ‘radiant’ – a daily reminder to remain defiant and radiant in the face of the conflict Ukraine is facing right now.

RDNT’s fashion capsule collection fittingly titled “The Water” features rippled-water prints banded with bold jumpsuits, oversized hoodies and deconstructed jeans. The color palette is symbolic of the aura color chart, with pale shades of yellow, blue, green, pink, and purple. The patterned sensibility of prints is a good fit for Paris. The stoicism in the cuts and shapes would not be out of place in Milan. The streetwear styling would make London proud. There is a decidedly fresh European aesthetic coursing through the lifelines of RDNT.

Ukraine has only played in one Olympic Games back in 1996, and three European Championships, all before 1997. The Ukrainian Water Polo Federation, or the UWPF, is highly passionate in developing and supporting water polo in Ukraine despite the extremely difficult circumstances at present. “The idea of our collaboration appeared not coincidentally,” comments Tan, who seeks to inspire a sense of hope for his nation. While attending one of the UWPF’s water polo matches himself, Tan experienced the pure joy and happiness of being in the water. “It was then that I understood we must collaborate for a noble goal”, he adds.

RDNT is an eco-brand made out of recycled plastic and is uni-sex by design. This is very good and pretty and wearable and exciting stuff, pick your adjective. Yet make no mistake. It’s also a nod to Ukraine’s fight for independence. By honoring the Ukrainian Water Polo players, Tan effectively becomes the one to watch.

All proceeds from this one-of-a-kind fashion collaboration will be directed to the charity platform to help children who are in-treatment at various Ukrainian medical centers. President of the UWPF, Oleksandr Svishchov, reminisces on how “before the war started, a new sports pool was built in Mariupol and was supposed to open during the month. But now it is destroyed by bombs, as well as the pool of the Polytechnic Institute in Kharkiv.” He continues, “In Kramatorsk, the new sports pool is almost finished, and what it will become now, we don’t know!”

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, “all tournaments were stopped in Ukraine and most of the teams had to take refuge in and continue their practice as guests in different European countries,” states Svishchov. “We are striving to attract as much attention as possible to water polo in Ukraine. And I think that collaboration with a fashion brand is another way to engage a wider audience in this beautiful sport, all while raising funds for children impacted by the war.” This is where Tan’s stylistic allusion becomes a meta-reference, life at the time of conflict. So let’s circle back to the garments.

Looking closely at the garments, one can notice various accent cuts resembling hearts and hopeful phrases like “the moment is now”. Just like a water polo player leaping across a swimming pool, the collection pulls you in to remind you that life at the time of conflict still goes on: the Ukrainian Water Polo men’s championship and the Ukrainian Cup women’s is soon to be held in Lviv, from September 16-18. “These tournaments are the first to take place in Ukraine since the war began”, Svishchov says.

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